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16580 Gettysburg Hero Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Cabinet Card

"A veritable icon of Civil War legend, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain is
best known for his heroic participation in the Battle of Gettysburg.
Chamberlain and his regiment, the 20th Maine Infantry, gained notoriety
for their desperate bayonet charge down Little Round Top on the Second
Day of the Battle, a feat that figures prominently in Michael Shaara’s
novel The Killer Angels and its movie adaptation, Gettysburg. This one
deed, however, is only one facet of the man who later wrote “in great
deeds something abides.”

Portrait of Chamberlain taken in 1876 during his tenure as president
of Bowdoin College (1871-1883). Photographer: A.O. Reed 's Studio,
Brunswick, Maine. In very fine condition as shown in the
photographs.   $2,800

Born in Brewer, Maine in 1828, Chamberlain was the eldest of five
children born to Joshua and Sarah Brastow Chamberlain. The elder
Chamberlain, an admirer of all things military, named his son after sea
Captain James Lawrence, famous for his quote “don’t give up the
ship.” His namesake, however, had more peaceful ambitions. The
studious Lawrence Chamberlain graduated from Bowdoin College in
1852 where he was a student of Calvin Stowe (husband of the authoress,
Harriet Beecher Stowe). In 1855, after attending Bangor Theological
Seminary, Chamberlain and his new wife, Fannie, returned to Bowdoin
to begin a career as a professor of languages and rhetoric. The
outbreak of war, however, weighed heavily upon Chamberlain, who
desperately wanted to serve his country. Over the objections of the
College, Chamberlain offered his services to the governor of Maine
who appointed him Lieutenant Colonel of the newly raised 20th Maine
regiment. The scholar-turned-soldier would take advantage of his
position as second-in-command and studied “every military work I can
find” under the close tutelage of his commander, West Point graduate
Col. Adelbert Ames.

Though present at Antietam, Chamberlain and his regiment saw their
first trial by fire in one of the doomed assaults on Marye’s Heights at
Fredericksburg but missed a chance to be involved at the Battle of
Chancellorsville due to an outbreak of smallpox. Losses at
Chancellorsville elevated Col. Ames to brigade command, leaving
Chamberlain to command the regiment in the next major engagement
of the war, the Battle of Gettysburg.

On July 2, 1863, Chamberlain was posted on the extreme left of the
Federal line at Little Round Top—just in time to face Confederate
General John B. Hood’s attack on the Union flank. Exhausted after
repulsing repeated assaults, the 20th Maine, out of ammunition,
executed a bayonet charge, dislodging their attackers and securing
General Meade’s embattled left. Though the exact origin of the charge
is still the subject of debate, Congress awarded Chamberlain the Medal
of Honor for “conspicuous gallantry.”

Shortly after Gettysburg, Chamberlain was given command of a
brigade in the Fifth Corps and would retain it until the end of the war.
Throughout the war, Chamberlain was wounded six times, most
grievously at Petersburg in June 1864. Believing this wound to be
mortal, Congress promoted Chamberlain to the rank of Brigadier
General. Chamberlain, however, would survive the wound, and return
to the front in time to play a pivotal role in the Appomattox Campaign.
On April 12, 1865, Brigadier General Chamberlain received the
Confederate surrender of arms. Rising to the occasion, the general
ordered his men to salute their vanquished foes. After the war,
Chamberlain returned to Maine, where he served four terms as the
state’s Governor. He later served as president of Bowdoin College
alongside former general and Bowdoin alum, Oliver Otis Howard.
Prolific and prosaic throughout his life, Chamberlain spent his twilight
years writing and speaking about the war. His memoir of the
Appomattox Campaign, The Passing of the Armies was published after
his death in 1914.